I have been talking a lot about being passionate, yet cool, calm, and understanding when contending for the truth. I have also said that you can quickly disqualify your voice with rhetoric that lacks tact (especially today). I think we have a lot of people out there who have good theology but terrible tact. Hence, they are simply not effective.

Friends, this needs to change if we are going to have an impact (and this is coming from a Calvinist!).

Here are two great and classic examples about how to handle yourself tactfully in theological discussion. Listen well…

Martin Bucer

“If you immediately condemn anyone who doesn’t quite believe the same as you do as forsaken by Christ’s Spirit, and consider anyone to be the enemy of truth who holds something false to be true, who, pray tell, can you still consider a brother? I for one have never met two people who believed exactly the same thing. This holds true in theology as well.”

This is a good starting point to gain perspective. Remember, there is no one who looks exactly like you do theologically. Be careful here as this type of attitude can quickly exhume your soul from death, but leave every other living person in hell. This is worse than just about anything you could accuse your opponent of. We have answers, but we don’t have all the answers. We have truth, but we don’t have all the truth.

John Newton’s Works; Letter XIX – On Controversy

A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton replied as follows:

“Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours, might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the word of God. I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method’s sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public and yourself.

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever. But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! “He knows not what he does.” But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his. Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy: but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose. If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth. If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

 If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit. The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, “not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.” The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors. If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.”

Folks, it does not get any better than this. These are not postmodernists, relativists, centrists, or weak liberals. These are theological giants of the Reformation period.

Tact, friends. Be irenic with gentleness and respect: we need it.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    28 replies to "Bucer and Newton and Theological Tact"

    • Dr_Mike

      Your adduction of Bucer and Newton would be quite powerful and persuasive if one’s goal was to become European.

      It would be preferable to consider examples from Scripture, such as Peter, Paul, Christ Jesus,or John the Baptist. We have a perfect record of their acts provided for our benefit; with Christ, of course, we have the Perfect Example for us to follow. Why not use him to support irenicism?

      Anyone can select historical examples to support their point but the question is, is your point promoted by Scripture as the preferred or only means of interaction?

      Your loyal opposition,

    • Michael T

      Dr. Mike,

      I think there is just one problem with you assertion concerning the examples of Jesus and the Apostles. You, nor I are them. I’m sorry but as much as I wish I were I do not speak infallibly in my interpretation of Scripture as the Apostles did. When Jesus spoke he did so as the Son of God, when Paul spoke he did so as an Apostle of God. There is no such authority present today and all of us are fallible to a degree in our interpretations. Thus I think it is necessary to approach our disagreements with tact.

      Furthermore, I have no idea your age, but I’m 26 and I can tell you straight up that as far as my generation is concerned CMP is right that when people speak without tact they lose all credibility. As a practical matter one would heed CMP’s advice unless they want to be simply ignored by the vast majority of my generation. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want the Gospel to be lost to a large portion of my generation simply because we failed to choose our words carefully.

    • Dr_Mike

      So, Michael T, you’re saying that Jesus is not an example for us to follow? What of Peter’s letter? And as far as the prophets go, what of James’ words?

    • Michael T

      Dr. Mike,
      On one level I believe their philosophy in approaching things is what should be followed, not necessarily the actions themselves. I have spent the last few months reading through the letters of Paul and if their is one thing that comes across clearly to me it is that Paul was cognizant of who it was he was speaking too. So he approached each Church and each situation in a different manner. He laid the smack down on the church in Corinth while he debated philosophy with those in Athens. If hellfire and brimstone, or harsh rhetoric is the tool best suited to spread the Gospel in a certain culture then by all means use it. However, that is not our culture.

      On another level I think there is a degree to which we can’t follow Jesus’ or the Apostle’s examples for the reason stated earlier. We can’t speak infallibly – they could. Paul when he laid the smack down on Corinth was speaking infallibly as an Apostle of God. Unless I too can do that (and I can’t) I would be much more careful in my approach.

      In addition to this the culture in which Jesus and the Apostle’s spoke was quite different from our culture. Just as a hypothetical consider two cultures. In the first culture harsh rhetoric is considered taboo and frowned upon. Those who practice such methods have no standing and no one will even give them the time of day. Then consider a second culture where harsh rhetoric is expected and considered part of good debating technique. Would it be wise to apply the techniques of debate from the first culture to the second culture or from the second culture to the first culture???

      One must always be wise in knowing who they are talking to and how that group will respond to different methods of debate. Simply saying that we should just do what Jesus did is insufficient regardless of which side is saying it because he was speaking to a specific culture with specific cultural norms for rhetoric (whether it’s your fire and brimstone types or you lovey dovey emergent types who want to turn Jesus into someone who just told us to “be nice”). As a pragmatic matter if a form of rhetoric is going to cause more people to be turned off to the gospel then another form of rhetoric one should use the most effective means and the most effective means in 21st Century America is not the same as 20th Century America is not the same as 21st Century Japan is not the same as 1st Century Palestine etc. etc. etc.

    • Borden


      “What of Peter’s Letter?”

      Which one? The one that says:

      “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)?

    • Dallas

      There is only one justifiable reason to be irenic, and that is because Scripture commands us to do so. We are to speak the truth in love and try as best as we can to live peaceably with all types of people.

      With all due respect, I must say that CMP’s contention that those who do not use tact are disqualified from influence just doesn’t square with the facts concerning how culture is influenced. Here are just a few movements that have gained ground in the culture: Secular humanism, Radical Feminism, Militant homosexuality. Militant Atheism, Radical Islam. There is a common thread in each of these movements: They have become very successful by employing extremely strident and militant methods. None of these movements believes in agree-to- disagree or civility; you are either with them on every point or you are the scum of the earth. The church gained ground when that stridency was there and lost it as we became nicer.

      My own take on this is that we should be gentle in dealing with honest seekers of truth but absolutely and mercilessly strident against those who have shown themselves to be disingenuous, scheming, conniving or otherwise driven by a hidden agenda. I see this two pronged approach in Titus 1:7-13 in particular and as part of a larger Biblical view as well. The church would be more effective if we apply both prongs in a balanced fashion.

    • Dr_Mike

      Michael T:

      You’ve switched horses in midstream: what CMP and I have gone back and forth over is not how to relate to non-Christians – for whom I have tremendous concern and tolerance – but how to deal with obstinate, aggressive, pugnacious believers. Your unilateral shift to how to relate to unbelievers is not what I was talking about. If you check my interactions here and at Theologica, I think you’ll find that I have not dealt forcefully with any unbeliever.

      And, as far as you being a voice for your generation, I can only say that I have a lot of young men of your generation who listen to me and want to hear what I have to say. They listen not because I’m irenic but because I am passionate and will stand up for what I believe to be right and against that which I believe to be wrong.

      Of course, I’m dealing with young Texans. Other parts of the country – like, oh, let’s say, Oklahoma – seem to want to follow androgynous, domesticated, steers that remind them of their mothers.

      [B.N. – Since you don’t know me, you must understand that I am given to hyperbole, satire, irony, and other rhetorical devices in the service of humor: I don’t want to take myself – or anyone else – too seriously. But the principles and truths, and the positions I take concerning them, are worth fighting about. That’s why I won’t run from a fight. But just with believers.]

    • C Michael Patton

      This blog is not directed toward believers or non-believers. As well, I don’t know if that is the valid distinction. Concerning those whom we can be more polemic with, they are two:

      1. Those who we have the responsibility over, such as in a church in relation to the preacher. Does not mean that they are always polemic, but they do have the right and will have an audience.

      2. Those whom we are close to personally.

      There is no reason, outside of these type of platforms to be aggressive in such a out of control way. Check Paul in Act 17. He was neither their friends or their pastor so he handled himself much differently.

      Tact friends.

    • Michael T

      Dr. Mike,
      Bifurcating non-believers and believers doesn’t work because non-believers see how we treat fellow believers. They may be lost but they certainly aren’t stupid. Non-believers largely know that there are many issues that are of dispute in the Christian faith and have been historically. If they see us publicly destroying one another over rather complex theological issues (or minor ones) we and the Gospel we preach are going to lose just as much credibility as you would lose if you were directing your criticism towards them. There is no attempt to pull a bait and switch on you because ultimately the way we treat one group bleeds into how we treat another group and how that other group perceives us. This is ultimately why one must choose their words carefully whenever they speak publicly about any issue regardless of audience and whether it be related to religion or not.

    • Michael T

      Also I don’t claim to be a voice for my generation because me and my generation do not completely think alike (I quite frankly have a different epistemology from most of them). However, having had a lot of debates in high school, college, and law school with others of my generation I think I have at least some handle on where they come from and how they think.

      On passion. You’re right in some sense that my generation is susceptible to passionate beliefs (they elected Obama after all). However, don’t be so certain that your passion is convincing them of what you are thinking your convincing them off. Many may be convinced that Christianity is a good way to live ones life or whatever by your passion, but you are unlikely to convince them of the exclusivity of Christ with your passion. Also Texas is an interesting place – can’t speak for that state – just know I shoudn’t mess with it.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      I like Bucer and Newton’s comments. I like Dr. Mike and Dallas’s comments. And I like Jesus and the apostles’ comments, whether tactful or untactful according to our current societal standards.

      Anyways, let me give you an example of the tact provided by those Protestants who are angry with the Protestants who have supported and signed the Manhattan Declaration

      (1) “The Manhattan Declaration is an ungodly manifesto, contemptuous of the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ecumenical treatise, complete with a Romish gospel and shot through and through with popish error. Those evangelicals who have authored this document and who have led the way in signing it show themselves to be in rebellion to God. It is, in their case, a brazen manifesto of treason against the Lord Jesus Christ. And they are not friends but rather are enemies of Christian liberty in that they disobey and provoke the Author of liberty with their spiritual fornication, even wresting His word and corrupting His blood-bought church. It is the biblical duty of all faithful Christian pastors to stand against the evangelical authors of the Manhattan Declaration and all evangelicals who sign it or promote it in any way. Such betrayers of Christ and His church must be separated from and called to account by all faithful Christian ministers and people.”

      (2) “As Christians, we can not be signing documents that claim that Catholics and Eastern Orthodox individuals are Christians. All of the evangelical leaders who signed this need to unsign it and proclaim that the signing communicates the lie that these other religions are Christians. I am deeply devoted to the pro-life cause and I regularly call other Christians to do the same, however this document pits that cause against the gospel. Our pro-life activism is commanded by God, but is not separate from the gospel, it needs to be informed by the gospel and for the gospel!”

      (3) “The declaration repeatedly dumps all “Christians” in to the evangelical basket. It is not the civil/moral substance of the declaration. It is calling those who are not Christians, Christians. Period.”

      (4) “Had the document not gone out of its way to identify enemies of the Gospel as “Christians,” and to wave aside the dividing-line of the Gospel as “historic lines of ecclesial difference,” it would have been an entirely different matter, wouldn’t it?”

      Whaddya think, CMP? Do these comments qualify as irenic, tactful rhetoric? Or do you think that the seriousness of their concerns merits and justifies the rhetoric that they used.

    • C Michael Patton


      I would have to see those in context (although I suspect I know where they come from).

      Did you sign the statement?

    • Truth Unites... and Divides


      YES!!! A joyful, resounding “Yes!” to the Manhattan Declaration.

    • tamara

      I completely adored this post. Is this really ‘tact’, or is this simply ‘kindness’? To seek to speak the truth without unnecessarily wounding… ah, it requires so much effort and forethought. Perhaps there should also be an admonition to receive instruction/correction well?

    • Dave Z

      TUaD, I’d be interested in knowing the sources of your quotes. Which one was Dr. Mike?

      OK, kidding a bit there, but with a point. For me, I don’t listen to strident or overbearing arguments, and I’m not 26, but just over twice that. My concern with polemicism (is that a word?) is that I get suspicious that the speaker has not really thought through the important considerations on a given topic. I have too often found that those who shout the loudest are those who have the least to say. In my skepticism, I suspect that the smugness and the faint (and sometimes not so faint) whiff of condescending superiority that often accompany polemic arguments are signs of a simplistic approach and the (conscious or unconscious) assumption that everyone who disagrees is an idiot.

      Dallas’ examples provide an illustration:

      Here are just a few movements that have gained ground in the culture: Secular humanism, Radical Feminism, Militant homosexuality. Militant Atheism, Radical Islam. There is a common thread in each of these movements: They have become very successful by employing extremely strident and militant methods. None of these movements believes in agree-to- disagree or civility; you are either with them on every point or you are the scum of the earth. The church gained ground when that stridency was there and lost it as we became nicer.

      It’s true that those movements have gained ground, but does that justify their methods? Should the methods of radical Islam (not sure that group has really gained ground, I mean, we are at war with radical elements of Islam) be the model for the followers of Christ? I think the church has tried that – The Inquisition and The Crusades. I’d also point out that the early church (if we want to view them as a model) did not have the option of stridency, at least not for the first couple of centuries – they were busy trying to survive in a culture of officially sanctioned persecution. Yet the church grew. Advocating stridency on behalf of the church, even in much of the world today, would be laughable were it not life-threatening.

    • A. M. Mallett

      This is an appropriate reminder to myself on this day of thanksgiving. The LORD knows I get in the trenches with folks when I should know better. This post convicted me and I will have to bookmark for my own benefit.

      Thanks and God Bless.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “TUaD, I’d be interested in knowing the sources of your quotes.”

      Quote #1: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2009/11/23/why-i-signed-the-manhattan-declaration/#comment-760

      Quotes #2 and #4 come from here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/11/24/6742/#comment-54239

      Quote #3: I still have to find it.

    • Jason C

      Challenge-riposte was the standard form of rhetoric in Jesus’ day. If you couldn’t stand up manfully and slap down those attempting to slap you down then obviously your position wasn’t very strong.

      John 8:38-45 is an example of that.

      Modern man is a rather insipid creature compared to the ancients so we have to be more gentle with him.

    • Michael T

      Aren’t you proving CMP’s point here by pointing out the exact type of comments CMP is saying shouldn’t be made? I’m confused.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Michael T,

      I thought it was quite apparent what I was asking of CMP: “Do these comments qualify as irenic, tactful rhetoric? Or do you think that the seriousness of their concerns merits and justifies the rhetoric that they used.”

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Dear CMP,

      (Sorry for being off-topic) It seems some of the controversy over the Manhattan Declaration stems for the doctrine of Sola Fide. From this old post of yours, you wrote that Sola Fide was essential for orthodoxy, but not essential for salvation:

      “I believe that faith alone saves a person, not an adherence to the belief in salvation by faith alone. Having said this, I believe that it is a primary part of the discharge of the Gospel to proclaim strongly and loudly that salvation is by faith alone. Those who deny such are in great danger in many ways. Paul exhorted the Galatians not to fall back into a worthless system of works. The means by which they were saved (faith) is also the means by which they are kept (faith). When man attempts to add anything to the faith, they have denied the Gospel by which they were saved. This is tragic.”

      This makes sense to me and I agree with you, but it seems to me that the critics of the Protestant signers and supporters of the Manhattan Declaration are saying that Sola Fide is a 1st-Order doctrine and essential for salvation.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Jason C., I think there are ways to slap down the argument without slapping down the person. Problem is we take our theology too personally.

    • TrueHope

      IMO the Manhattan Declaration issue is not so much about the contents of the declaration, but the fact that people from the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are signing it. Perhaps this controversy could have been resolved if the Calvinists just copied the Manhattan Declaration word-for-word, except where it says “We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians”, just replace it with “We are evangelical 5-point Calvinistic Christians”. Then, just call it the “Reformed Manhattan Declaration”. Then there wouldn’t be so much controversy. But it’s kind of too late now, and it’s unreasonable to expect any signatories such as Grudem to unsign it.

      Since the declaration only mentions the gospel and not the eternal fate of babies who are aborted, there will be no need to distinguish between Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians. Neither is there a need to distinguish between infras and supras.

      Likewise, Arminians (like Oden and McDowell) who want to sign it could make their own version of the Manhattan Declaration.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      TAVW, #42: “Moreover, biblical criticism is (at least as far as my experience went) often dismissed or downplayed at DTS with an embarrassing quickness, one somehow thought justified by the crippling modernist, hermeneutical straitjacket of inerrancy (at least insofar as inerrancy is seen through the lens of the Chicago Statement or its doctrinal analogs).

      Dan Wallace, #61: “BTW, one of the key things the NT faculty ask students who want to get into our department for a PhD is how open they are to historical criticism. They may hold to a view that is far to the right of where we are, but if they are open to the evidence and can affirm a willingness to engage, rather than shut down or shout down, then they’re a decent candidate.”

      If we’re going to set equal standards for both sides, then a clear lack of tact and irenicity (per C. Michael Patton’s continued insistence) is displayed by TAVW’s assertion that inerrancy is a “crippling, modernist, hermeneutical straitjacket” which shows contra Wallace an unwillingness to engage, but rather to shut down or shout down Inerrantists.

      With regards to “decent” candidates for DTS’s doctoral program, have them engage this brief by NT Professor Eta Linnemann, a student of Dr. Rudolf Bultmann, titled “Confessions of a Former Bultmannian” as regards to the hermeneutic of Historical Criticism and its myriad of descendants.

    • Lisa Robinson


      If one wishes to engage in honest Biblical scholarship, it would be of necessity to understand the HC method, would you not agree? Not for agreement but for effective intellectual interaction.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides


      If one wishes to engage in honest Biblical scholarship, it would be of necessity to understand the HC method, would you not agree? Not for agreement but for effective intellectual interaction.”

      Lisa Robinson,

      It might be fun to dissect and parse the words further in your sentences. But let me instead respond with a counsel of humble caution. As someone who believes in a literal Eve in a Garden of Eden, she was urged to engage in “effective intellectual/physical interaction” with forbidden fruit. Not to say that the methodology of Historical-Criticism is “forbidden fruit”, but rather that H-C has left a rather long and destructive wake of apostate souls who have drank the corrosive acid of her seeds. Not everyone, obviously, but far too many!

      Sometimes, perhaps not you, but others, there is the temptation to make “scholarship” a false idol. And an idol to take self-pride in.

      And with regards to “honest”, how “honest” are the assumptions of H-C biblical scholarship when weighed in the balance against the self-attestations of the Written Word and Living Word? And what about turning the methodology of H-C back upon itself? How does it fare in the mirror?

      Yet assuming the earnestness of your question, I would approach H-C methodology as if it was the required viewing of an R-rated movie, a film that everyone in academia raves about and which you’re expected to have some currency in. My hope is that you would have the intestinal fortitude and moxie of a Machen, a D.A. Carson, or an R.C. Sproul by which to enter the Lion’s Den of theological liberals and still leave unscathed and intact.

      In addition to Professor Linnemann’s essay above, I commend to you C.S. Lewis’s famous essay titled “Fern-Seed and Elephants.” You’ll have a good chuckle or two, but there is a worthy lesson there too.

      Also, I might suggest knowing H-C and the assumptions underlying all its variants for the purposes of undermining it, and then *evangelizing* those theological liberal-atheists whose faith has been sabotaged by higher criticism. God willing.

    • Lisa Robinson


      Trust me, I do appreciate your words of caution. I have witnessed first hand the affect the HC has had on Christians not firmly established in their bibliology. I would agree that before one delves into a study in HC, one should have a sure footing in verbal plenary inspiration and historical-grammatical-canonical methodology to understand why the Bible is the word of God as opposed to becoming or containing the word of God. Otherwise, the seemingly rationale does have an appealing allure as does even the dialectal model espoused by Barth.

      I don’t suggest one engages in study for mere sake of scholarship. Yes, that study in a vacuum could prove harmful. But for the purposes of understanding points of departure that have so undermined the Biblical text and in order to defend divine communication appropriate to revelation and inspiration that does make the Bible, God’s word, understanding HC can be quite helpful. Perhaps I’m biased since this is my particular interest and see such study as having tremendous apologetic value.

      Btw, I love Machen, Carson, Pache, Geisler and Henry so no worries on this end 😉

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